Ever since Tim Connelly took the Wolves president of basketball operations job, moving from Denver, he has been living out of a hotel, searching for a new home for his family and talking for hours and hours about the NBA draft.
That day is finally here, and the Timberwolves have four picks (Nos. 19, 40, 48, 50). Discussions will cease, and Connelly will have to make his first significant decisions as the new Wolves boss on the league's most hectic day.
"It's the one night a year where you feel like you're actually doing your job as a front office guy," Connelly said Wednesday. "It's fun; we sit in that room and argue 10 hours a day. None of us really know what it's going to look like."
The Wolves enter the draft and subsequent free agency needing to upgrade their frontcourt, specifically their rebounding, Connelly said, but don't expect Connelly to be using the 19th pick to find a rebounder in the draft. Connelly previously said some of his biggest mistakes in the draft when he was in Denver was focusing too much on need.
The player he selects Thursday may end up not contributing in a significant way next season at all.
"If you look at the final eight teams this year, there's not many teams that were playing rookies," Connelly said. "So, we're drafting for the next three to seven years. If we expect the 19th pick to make an instant impact on a team that was in the playoffs last year, it's unfair for that player.
"You want to get on base with 19. How much do you want to swing for the fences? That depends who's there."
Given the pick may not contribute immediately, the Wolves could trade it for a player more likely to bolster the current roster.
"We're super open to it," Connelly said. "We've had countless conversations about using that pick to add a more quickly impactful piece. But 99% of these conversations are just theoretical. We'll see if they're actionable."
They could also use some of the draft ammunition they have in the second round to move up, if a deal presents itself. Connelly said he was surprised at the tenor of trade talks around the league as of Wednesday afternoon.
"I thought they'd be a bit further advanced than they are today," Connelly said. "But all it takes is one call, and you make a trade in two minutes. A lot of jabbing right now; hopefully there's some punching starting [Thursday] morning."
Connelly said that before ESPN reported the Pistons were sending Jerami Grant, a player Connelly acquired in Denver, to the Trail Blazers for a 2025 first-round pick via Milwaukee.
The draft is the start of the offseason, and it is the first significant window in which teams make trades. Beyond the draft, the Wolves will have to consider what to do with D'Angelo Russell, who is entering the final year of his contract and could be a trade candidate in the next few weeks.
Russell helped the Wolves to the No. 7 seed, thanks to his playmaking, clutch shot making during the regular season, and improved defensive focus. He also struggled so much in the playoff series against Memphis that he sat for the final minutes of an elimination game in Game 6.
All scenarios are in play, including Russell coming back to play out the final year of his contract. It seems unlikely Thursday will provide any clarity around Russell's situation, even if the Wolves end up taking a point guard.
Connelly would take a point guard, or a player at any position for that matter, if that is who he has ranked highest on his board. The draft was how Connelly made his reputation in Denver and how he built the Nuggets into a perennial playoff team and potential title contender — when they have a healthy roster.
Connelly was asked Wednesday what he has learned over the past decade about how to draft that contributed to his success.
"I was better nine, 10 years ago," Connelly said. "Less information. Too much information now. We can tell you if the guy liked blue or red in kindergarten now, and I don't know if that helps you make a good selection. I think you got to go with your gut. When you're making these calls to try to get a sense of who the guy is in terms of work ethic and coachability, I think you just have to call people you have real relationships with."
The phones will keep ringing through Thursday night as Connelly tackles his first major moment with the Wolves.
"I don't know if I've learned much," Connelly said, then added that there's more stuff "in my head and more stories to tell, but I don't know if I've gotten any better or worse at it."